The influenza flu season is claiming tens of thousands of lives in the United States, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention revealed.
Despite constant reminders from public health officials to get vaccinated, last winter recorded the highest death toll associated with the disease in the last four decades.
The summary of the 2017-2018 flu season was published on the website of the CDC.
Worst Flu Season
The death toll during the 2017-2018 flu season, which occurs during fall and winter months, has reached an estimated 80,000 Americans. In comparison, during previous flu seasons, public health officials record about 12,000 to 56,000 flu-related deaths.
The worst flu season ever reported happened in 1918 when a pandemic claimed the lives of more than 500,000 Americans.
The previous flu season was especially deadly to children. By August 2018, the CDC recorded 190 pediatric deaths which are slightly higher than 171 deaths, the highest number of flu-related deaths in children back in 2012-2013. Of these deaths, 80 percent did not receive flu vaccinations.
According to a report by the CDC, the previous flu season started to increase by November and reached its peak at around February. By March, the influenza-like illness activity was mostly over.
Because flu is extremely common that not every case is reported and death certificates do not list down flu as a cause, the agency does not have the exact number of people who passed away because of the disease. Instead, public health officials used a system that tracks down deaths that included pneumonia or influenza as an underlying or contributing cause.
Public health officials say that the estimated 80,000 people might still be revised, but not expected to significantly go down. The CDC also identified that the Influenza A(H3N2) virus was the most common type of flu during the 2017-2018 season.
Flu Season 2018-2019
For the upcoming flu season, public health officials are more optimistic that they will not see the same number of deaths due to the illness this year. Speaking to the Associated Press, Daniel Jernigan, a flu expert from the CDC, says that the strain of flu that is detected as early as this month is milder than last year.
He also iterated the importance of getting vaccinated to protect oneself and their families from the spread of flu. The CDC has already released the list of approved flu vaccines this coming flu season, including nasal sprays.
"We don't know what's going to happen, but we're seeing more encouraging signs than we were early last year," Dr. Jerninga shared.